Shakespeare talks with regards to present times (16th century for him) comes under scrutiny when he considers whether current generation of inventors have “mended” (Shakespeare 1609) or improved their ways with respect to the former generations. This diction should be read in light of the fact that sonnet 59 was part of a sequence called Fair Youth where Shakespeare is declaring his love for a young man. By inquiring whether men of today have “mended” their ways, Shakespeare may be attempting to contemplate whether this forbidden love is actually a sign of improvement or just a duplication of the flaws that preexisted in men.
Harking back to the antique book and 500 courses of the sun, referencing to times 500 years ago, and old world, he makes considerable effort to justify his claims with regards to his inclinations, suggesting that since new inventions were not entirely new themselves, it is very likely that his love for this man may not be a new feeling either, and hence be justified on those grounds.
Shakespeare invites the reader to share his frustration, judging himself in light of the stigmas of olden times. Hinting at his sexual inclinations, and taken by the physical beauty of his lover, he asks for “an image in some antique book” or some writing (“mind in character”) which could explain to him what the “old world could say to this composed wonder of your frame.” Analysis of these words in light of our original diction “mended” suggests that Shakespeare wants to seek evidence from history to understand whether what he feels for this man is right or wrong. He wants to compare the two times so he could understand if indeed this new development inside of him is a problem carried over from earlier times. The last phrase seems to justify his love for the man, since people of old have given subjects worse … admiring praise. According to him, his subject ranks higher than the ones people have already praised and is thus more worthy of his love and admiring diction.
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